City of Vicksburg approves contract with company for airport drainage work

Published 1:24 pm Thursday, August 12, 2021

Work is expected to begin soon on a drainage project expected to improve conditions at the Vicksburg Airport’s south runway.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday approved a contract with Hemphill Construction of Florence to make the improvements at the airport’s south end to alleviate a serious problem with standing water.

Hemphill’s $141,275 bid was the lowest for the project, which is fully funded by a $209,857 Federal Aviation Administration grant.

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Keafur Grimes with project engineer Barge Design Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., said soil test results from the south runway made as part of a report for proposed airport improvements raised some concerns about the area.

“They (engineers) were so shocked that the soil conditions were so bad, especially about five, six feet below the surface, and that created some issues because we were concerned about what type of aircraft would be able to come in during saturated field conditions,” he said during an interview Aug. 5. “We found out the soil was much weaker than we thought.”

He said the tests were done in March when the area around the runway was saturated from local rains. He said the lab that tested the soil samples verified the results after a second review.

Grimes said the drainage project can help the area by removing the standing water that accumulates because it has nowhere to go.

“Right now, there’s a beaver dam that has the water blocked,” he said. “Whenever there’s a storm, the water is blocked and it doesn’t go anywhere. It keeps percolating through the soil.”

The drainage project involves the installation of a headwall and reinforced concrete pipe to remove the water. The headwall, Grimes said, will help direct the flow of the drainage through the pipe and away from the runway.

Grimes said some of the city’s COVID relief money will be used to hire a contractor to remove the beaver dam.

“We flew a drone over the area and we found out where the beaver dam is,” he said.

The board has discussed upgrades for the Vicksburg Airport that are expected to make it part of a multi-modal system centered around a proposed new port for Vicksburg or the possible expansion of the existing port.

Becoming multi-modal means Vicksburg will be able to offer multiple transportation sites for business and industry to bring supplies and equipment to the area and make Vicksburg and Warren County more inviting to companies that will supply materials to the Continental Tire facility near Clinton.

The board in October 2019 hired Barge Design Solutions to survey and design needed upgrades to the airport on U.S. 61 South that was activated in 1950.

In May 2020, the board approved a $215,811 work authorization order with Barge to study and design a proposed massive upgrade to the airport.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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